By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
MILLINGTON — Pastors should lead their churches to become “soul-winning churches,” said Ray Newcomb, pastor emeritus, First Baptist Church, Millington, who preached during the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention last week here. He preached in the church he retired from because First, Millington, hosted the annual meeting.
To lead their churches to become soul-winning churches, some pastors might have to make a spiritual commitment, said Newcomb, a former TBC president.
He preached from Acts 20 citing the Apostle Paul’s direction to the new church.
The entire book of Acts should be followed by pastors and churches, Newcomb advised. He still follows it as he leads churches as interim pastor. He doesn’t just try to help the church maintain, but to do what it takes to reach lost people, he explained.
From Acts 20, pastors will see that they should follow the manner, ministry, and message of Paul, he explained.
People should trust that God can reveal to them through the Bible what they should know, he observed. He told how he resisted pressure to believe the story of Jonah was not literally true and then became involved in the denomination, defending his beliefs which were criticized by both conservatives and moderates.
Newcomb encouraged Baptists attending meetings to witness to the people in the restaurants, hotels, and meeting facilities. Christians also need to be careful about their witness in their communities and how it reflects on their church, he warned.
To encourage awareness of the need for soul-winning in churches, he suggested asking church members to write down the name of five people who aren’t Christians and pray for them. Christians also should go door-to-door to visit people in their homes despite the fact that few churches still do it. Churches also should emphasize soul-winning at home rather than just on missions trips, he said.
He told of several trials he went through while at churches. In one instance, he faced opposition though he had been serving the church for a long time and the church was one of the top churches in the entire denomination in growth. It all worked out and he stayed at the church for a long, “glorious” time, he described.
“Pastor, I don’t know what you’re going through, but stick with it. Have a testimony [because] you’re going to go through the trials … ,” stated Newcomb.
Newcomb recalled that he began preaching at 15 and serving a church at 19 years of age. When he came to First, Millington, in 1976, he prayed that God would allow him to baptize people for Christ every week. To communicate that he asked a staff member to prepare the baptistry every week. The church began to grow.
“Have you ever shed tears over your church, over your people? Have you ever shed tears over lost people? Have you ever cried because they are going to hell?”
He told how he would pray every Saturday night from a place he would drive to for the city he served.
Pastors shouldn’t be chief executive officers of their churches but be busy preaching and soul-winning and feeding their flocks.
“A lot of us, rather than feed the flock, would rather fleece the flock, fight with the flock, and fuss with the flock.”
They also should help their congregations avoid debating Calvinism, Armenianism, music, and worship. He wishes all generations would worship together and noted that Revelation 13 teaches that the people sang a new song and sang a song of Moses.
“The reason we’re losing so many of our young people is because we haven’t taught doctrine. We’ve preached therapeutic messages, feel good. We need to start preaching theological messages … .
“You go back home and preach Jesus, go preach Jesus, go preach the Word, preach the Word, preach the Word. It doesn’t matter what people think. … Quit trying to reach one generation. There’s two types of people — lost and saved. Go get’um saved,” he said amid applause.
“Are you willing, whatever camp you’re in? Let’s get together, let’s start getting them to Jesus.”